On Zamaron….

A palace guard looked up, and cried out.

"Sisters! Look!" Manhunters descended from the sky and immediately began to attack. The guards formed battle lines, only for the Manhunters to slowly push them back. Gi'ata appeared and attacked, rescuing several guards and even destroying a few of the Manhunters before being forced back into the palace.

"Manhunters, here?" Aga'po said as the she watched her guards be defeated. She rushed into battle, easily defeating the machines.

"No man escapes the Manhunters." One of the damaged bots managed to say.

"I am no man. I am Aga'po, queen of the Zamarons!" She cried as she silenced her enemy.

On the Interceptor….

"As soon as the scanners locate Aya, we will set a direct course for her coordinates." Razer said as he continued his search for her. Razer looked forlornly at her usual spot, temporarily filled by Emmitt the former Manhunter. While his help was welcomed, his ability to perform the same duties she could were lacking.

"If we find her." Kilowogg remarked as he checked the weapons systems.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Look I love your cockeyed optimism but she was our nav-computer. All the stuff we need to find her? We can't do so well without her."

"Aya needs our help now more than ever. She's confused and her processors are misfiring."

"Confused? We wish. Going off the deep end and plugging into that invincible Anti-Monitor body. We'll probably be saving folks from her." Razer started to get up, ready to defend Aya. Erin quickly grabbed him, forcing back into his seat for the moment.

"Aya has helped pull our fat from the fire plenty of times. Now we're going to return the favor." Hal told Kilowogg, joining the other two in their defense of Aya.

"If only we knew where she was." Razer half-stated, half-pleaded.

On Zamaron….

The Aya-Monitor descended to battlefield, ceasing all the individual fighting between the Star Sapphires and the Manhunters. Gi'ata and Aga'po came out to see what had halted the fighting. They were shocked by the sight of Aya, her normal green and white replaced by electric blue and black.

"Star Sapphires of Zamaron. I demand an audience with your Queen." Aya said as she disengaged from the Anti-Monitor's body.

"You are the robot that served the Green Lanterns. Why have you come here, making war?" Aga'po answered as everyone readied their weapons at Aya.

"I have gained the understanding of the emotion you serve. Love, is not only useless, but destructive." Aya stated in her matter-of-fact way.

"Love does not destroy. It sustains and strengthens all who feel it."

"That is a lie. I loved and was loved only to have that love retracted, leaving me nothing but pain."

"You? A machine? A truly living being would trust that love will always prevail."

"Negative. I am here to punish you for cultivating this corrosive force."

"How dare you insult all that we stand for intruder!" Aga'po cried out as she attacked Aya with a beam of energy. Aya simply absorbed the blast, then fired one of her own. Aga'po was thrown through the palace, landing unconscious in its courtyard. Gi'ata and several guards rushed to her side, only to be confronted by Aya.

"I hope that you are done with your futile resistance." Aya said to Gi'ata.

"Our queen needs medical care, please let us take her to the infirmary." Gi'ata asked Aya, trying to reach for any spark of compassion left in her.

"You may try and save her, but it is for nothing. Just as love is for nothing." Aya told her.

On the Interceptor….

"The best way to find Aya is to get to Oa and scan from there." Hal argued. Erin and Emmitt turned to watch the slowly escalating tension in the bridge.

"We're two months from Oa." Kilowogg reminded.

"Sure at regular speed. But in ultra-warp, ten minutes tops if we don't stop for coffee."

"Personally, I question the idea of Earth as my homeworld's validity simply based on the things you consider sustenance Hal." Erin pointed out, remembering the last time the Earth Lantern had tried to get him to drink the saturated powder made from a small tree nut.

Kilowogg quickly ignored the side comment, "Ultra-warp without a nav Ai? Way too risky. One tiny rounding error and we end up smack-dab inside the molten core of a planet."

"But if you're right about how volatile Aya is, we have no choice." Razer commented, the pain of the realization aching him. Erin suddenly whipped his head around, his eyes unfocused.

"There is a disturbance in the tethers." He said as his eyes refocused on the bridge and crew. Kilowogg leaned close to Hal and tried to whisper.

"Shiny's going crazy." He said a little too loud.

On Zamaron…

"Why do you want to destroy us? Yes we serve love, because love is the one thing that will eventually peace and harmony to the universe." Gi'ata implored of Aya in the throne room. Aya merely fixed her cold gaze on the Star Sapphire.

"If you have ever felt love, you would know you are wrong." Aya told her. The android may have been close to Erin but she didn't know of his and Gi'ata's relationship.

"I have loved. I do love." Gi'ata said with the assurance of Erin in her heart.

"Who do you love that you are so sure of this?" Aya asked, her curiosity still searching for more information.

"I love Erin Mirror of Earth." Gi'ata told her, the shock momentarily breaking Aya's composure. Erin had never told anyone what had happened on Zamaron when he was away from the crew.

"But you have loved others before him, even as he likely does now." Aya told her, recollections of several times the crew had spent time in settlements and how often the women of the area would flock to Hal and Erin. Not that Hal or Erin ever let anything become of it.

"That is not true."

"Do you see how quickly your love turns to pain?"

"Yes, I mean no." Aya floated past her, making Gi'ata hurry after her.

"How will that pain bring peace to the universe?"

"It will…. I cannot say."

"You have dedicated your life, your entire planet's purpose to something you cannot explain." Aya turned to face her, her words cutting deep.

"We gained our understanding of love from two teachers who are not on Zamaron."

"Then bring these teachers here."

"Impossible. One is half a universe away and the other cannot be contacted by normal means."

"Teleport them, with your crystalline apparatus." Aya floated over the station, trying to ascertain how to control it.

"We cannot. The portal reunites beings that share a love between them. It cannot bring one without the other."

"Your supposition and technology are respectively wrong and primitive." Aya grabbed Gi'ata by the head, drawing the knowledge and understanding needed to use the crystal portal. She activated the portal, and released Gi'ata who quickly fell, drained from the encounter. Gi'ata pulled herself up in time to see the two figures in the portal. Carol Ferris stepped out first, confused as to how she had gotten there. As she took in the scene around her, Erin stepped through a wild look in his eyes.

"Oh not again." Carol said as Erin rushed past her to Gi'ata's side. He knelt down next to her, helping her stand up as he properly surveyed the scene around him. He noticed Aya and the new Manhunter guard arranged around the throne room.

"I knew something was wrong." Erin whispered to Gi'ata, though he seem confused by the arrival of Hal's ex-girlfriend.

"Will this take long? The buffet closes in 5 minutes." Carol asked of the assembled Lanterns. She squinted at Erin and seemed to recognize him as one of the crew members of the Interceptor.

"Carol Ferris, I am sorry that you were taken so abruptly in the middle of such important matters. It was not our choice. You were brought by this… Aya." Gi'ata said as Erin protectively flanked her, his eyes watching for any movement from the Manhunters.

"Right." Carol said, clearly not in the mood for more craziness from Hal's second job.

"Aya comes to us for answers about love, so I thought it best you two speak to her." Gi'ata explained as Carol set the small tray of food down on a nearby table. Erin immediately frowned, his hands going to his face.

"Wonderful." He muttered through his fingers.

"Of course… wait, what now?" Carol started as the momentary shock wore off.

"Erin. So my own brother is the proverbial snake in the garden. I will hear nothing from you, as you have already given your input on these matters several times." Aya told him, filling the boy with worry. If he couldn't get a chance to get through to her here, he would have to get the others here ASAP.

Aya turned her gaze to Carol, "Carol Ferris of Earth, can you convince me that the Zamarons and love should not be destroyed?" Erin's eyes widened, and he felt an unnatural surge of energy from his ring as he processed what she said. Carol tried to put together an argument on the spot.

"Well, I, uh…wait, destroy? Wait, you want to destroy love?" Carol stuttered as she fully comprehended what Aya had just said.

"I will destroy love's proxy in the universe, the Zamaron homeworld, unless you can give me a reason not to." Aya replied.

"Not gonna happen Aya." Erin told the android, who no longer seemed to acknowledge his existence in the room.

Carol used the moment to regain some composure before starting, "Huh, so no pressure then. Well, uhm, I don't know. Love is a battlefield. Love is patient. Love is kind. You have anything to add there kid?" Erin shrugged his shoulders, at a loss for words for once in his life.

"My love was unkind. He offered his love and took it back. Your fellow teacher can attest to that." Aya replied. Carol looked at Erin, who threw his hands up defensively and pointed back at Carol.

"Oh, uh, 'kay… it is not proud, it is not easily angered." Carol tried again, only to be cut off by Aya.

"False. When love is revoked it creates anger and resentment." Aya responded, then fired a warning shot at Carol's feet. She jumped back with a squeak. Erin raised his ring, but couldn't bring himself to charge a response blast.

"Carol, tell Aya what you told us. Erin, you try and do the same." Gi'ata told them. Erin looked at her in confusion as Carol tried to keep her hold on her wits.

"She isn't exactly listening to my input. I could say that her pieces make her look uneven but I don't…" Erin started to say, only to be grabbed in a forcefield from Aya. She casually threw him into the wall, where he slid down with a guttural moan. Gi'ata started to head towards him, only for him to wave her off.

"I will admit I deserved that. But out of everything I've ever told you sis, you choose that to actually listen to?" He grudgingly asked as he made his way back over, holding his side where he knew a rib had broken. Aya simply looked through him like he wasn't there, again. Gi'ata looked to Carol for any hope of salvation now.

"I don't know. All I said is that love is about doing what's best for the one you love. It's as simple as putting his or her needs before your own. But I'm no expert, I'm just someone who fell in love." Carol offered as her final plea. Erin moved his ring from his side, where he had been using violet energy to heal himself, and got ready to fight if it came down to it.

"Whom did you love?" Aya asked, her intent clear.

"I loved Hal Jordan. Love Hal Jordan." Gi'ata bowed her head in deference as Erin gingerly placed his arm around her waist. "I guess that's the hard part. I'll always love him, even though he makes me so angry."

"Then you hate and love the same person simultaneously." Aya observed.

"I could never hate Hal. He may drive me crazy, but he'll always have a place in my heart."

"So, you posit that love is stronger than hate?"

"Of course."

"Excellent, we shall see. There will be a trial by combat between love and hate." Aya said as she drifted past the three defenders of love.

"Emotions can't really fight each other."

"And a love tether can't be fully severed," Erin noted, realizing that a faint emotional bond still held Aya and Razer together.

"Negative. I will force them to."

On the Interceptor…

"Any sign of Erin?" Hal asked Kilowogg as Razer finished calculating ultra-warp with the help of Emmitt.

"Not since he poofed out to wherever he went. The kid is tough, he'll be fine." Kilowogg reminded him.

"All right, looks like we're ready for ultra-warp then."

"Aya makes those calculations in a fraction of a second. Razer's been working on that for three hours."

"I am reasonably sure I addressed all of the variables thanks to Erin's… ally." Razer replied as Emmitt watched the interactions of the crew without Erin to help him interpret. The former Manhunter found it fascinating.

"Oh, so long as you're reasonably sure. Jordan, look at this map. There are 15 near-misses in the Anders Nebula alone. No human brain can react fast enough to get through that alive." Kilowogg told Hal, pointing out the holes in his plan.

"Flying is mostly instinct. There's no brain involved." Kilowogg's look spoke volumes to Hal. "You know what I mean."

"It's worth it if it gets us to Aya." Razer told the sergeant.

"Razer's right. She needs our help now." Hal told Kilowogg, who accepted it with a grain of salt.

"3…2…1… Impel!" Kilowogg counted down as he activated the ultra-warp drive. With a surge of power, the ship disappeared into warp.

On Zamaron…

"How exactly are you going to make love and hate fight each other?" Carol asked Aya, who was approaching the crystal portal.

"Been meaning to ask that myself." Erin said, groaning as his newly healed bone pulled on his muscles.

"I will summon hate's champion." Aya said, opening a portal. Gi'ata and Carol stepped back as Atrocitus came through the portal. Erin tried to rush the former head of the Red Lanterns, only to be thrown back by Aya again.

"Who freed me from my cell?" Atrocitus asked, before noticing Aya. "A Green Lantern!" He tried to leap at Aya, only to be caught in her forcefield.

"Not quite. Atrocitus of the Red Lanterns, you are here to represent hate in a fight to the death against love's champion, Carol Ferris of Earth." Aya told them as Gi'ata immediately stepped forward to defend Carol.

"No, Carol Ferris is an innocent. Please let me be love's champion." Gi'ata pleaded.

"That's my girl! Always willing to fight for what right." Erin said as he pulled himself up from the pile he had landed in. A new black eye was already forming on him but he was still smiling.

"You yourself said that Carol Ferris and Erin possess the greatest understanding of love. Since Erin is not a valid data source, that leaves Carol Ferris. She is chosen." Aya told them, earning a muttered indignity from Erin.

"And why should I agree to this melee?" Atrocitus asked from his floating prison.

"Should you win, the prize is your freedom and the death of your opponent Hal Jordan's one true love, Carol Ferris." Aya told the ancient warmonger. Atrocitus could only smile in dark glee at the thought.

"That is acceptable."

"Wait, this is nuts. I can't fight an alien warlord. Are those serrated teeth?" Carol said as she sized up Atrocitus. Gi'ata quickly activated her ring, calling out a ring for Carol to use.

"Here, the Star Sapphire ring you returned before." Gi'ata told Carol as it floated, waiting for its host.

"Right, because if I'm battling to the death, I should at least be well accessorized." Carol commented as she put on the ring. Her Star Sapphire suit quickly formed, and she stood ready.

"Of course the fight must be fair. Atrocitus should have his power ring as well." Aya stated, summoning another portal through which a Red lantern ring arrived. Atrocitus quickly donned it, returning to his more formidable form.

"Are you insane? How is that fair?" Carol asked.

On the Interceptor…

"Coming out of ultra-warp in 3…2…1…" Hal said, easing back as the ship dropped out of the warp. He immediately gripped the wheel as he saw the star that they had nearly warped through.

"Did this figure into your calculations?" Kilowogg yelled at Razer as Hal maneuvered through the star's flares.

"We've jumped right into the atmosphere of a star." Razer replied, watching as the superheated gases curled around the ship.

"I see that." Hal grunted as he flew them through the unpredictable area. With a groan of exertion, Hal managed to pull the ship up and away from the star.

Kilowogg stood up, turning to Hal, "One half a degree and we would've been vaporized."

"But instead we're alive, and that much closer to Oa." Hal pointed out, "Next time we'll just remember to…"

"Next time? Uh-uh, we're never doing that again."

On Zamaron….

The Manhunters stood guard around the perimeter of the courtyard as Carol and Atrocitus looked at each other.

"Aya, I am not the Champion of Love. Please, call this off." Carol called out to the android who watched from a balcony far above.

"Fight or die." Came the simple reply. Erin's fists clenched next to the android, knowing any attempt to interfere would only put him out of commission to help when it was really needed. Carol turned back to Atrocitus, who was waiting to make the first move.

He attacked first, forcing Carol to dodge. Carol continued to defend herself, trying to keep away from the Red Lantern. He knocked her through the crystal garden, destroying most of the formations.

"I can't do this. I can't." Carol said as her ring started to glow. "Wait, the Star Sapphire's special power." She closed her eyes, her mind focusing on one thing. "Bring me the one I love."

On the Interceptor….

Hal turned around as a violet light flooded out from the space behind him. He saw a Star Sapphire portal, and in it he could see Carol, fighting for her life.

"Carol?" He asked, disbelief turning to anger. "Atrocitus!" Without a second thought, Hal jumped through.

"Jordan, wait!" Kilowogg's order falling on deaf ears. The Bolovaxian and Razer looked at each other as Hal and the portal disappeared.

On Zamaron…

Carol fled, trying to buy time for Hal to show up. Atrocitus caught her, slamming her to the ground. As she stood up, the portal opened behind her, surprising the Red Lantern as Hal punched him back into the crystal garden. Hal and Carol shared an intimate look before he took off after his old foe.

"Only the strength of love could bring Carol Ferris the hero, Hal Jordan." Gi'ata told Aya, then whispered, "Please be safe."

On the Interceptor…

"Do you know what the heck that was?" Kilowogg asked Razer, still shocked that another crew member had disappeared in front of them. Razer knew exactly where they were though.

"He's been transported to Zamaron." He told Kilowogg.

"Then we gotta hightail there. Atrocitus was waiting for him. Atrocitus."

"Zamaron is in Frontier Space, we would have to use ultra-warp."

"Then let's go."

On Zamaron…

Hal looked at the debris pile that Atrocitus was under, waiting for a sign of attack. Atrocitus leapt out, attacking Hal and forcing him back to the ground.

"When last we met human, I had just conquered Oa. This time you find me, better rested." Atrocitus said as he charged another attack. Hal charged, knocking Atrocitus back. Atrocitus hammered Hal back, stunning him. As the Red Lantern made to finish Hal off, Carol intervened, saving him. Hal used the set-up to knock Atrocitus back.

"The Star Sapphire ring doesn't let you drag anyone across the universe." Hal smiled at Carol.

"It was either you or my high school prom date. And he's an accountant in Tucson." Carol sarcastically replied. Atrocitus returned with a savage roar, giving them time to dodge his attack. But even together they couldn't stop him. First Carol was knocked out, then Hal landed dazed at the foot of the rock pillar that made up the heart of the crystal garden. Erin moved as Atrocitus charged a deadly fire-breath attack. Erin swooped low, looking to shield Hal at the last minute with the last of his ring's energy. Gi'ata raced straight forward, knowing Erin's ring didn't have enough to protect him or Hal. Hal's face turned upwards as Erin landed beside him. Atrocitus fired, and Erin put everything he had into a shield around them. But the blast was intercepted by Gi'ata, who had flown above them. Erin watched in horror as Gi'ata took the full force of the attack. He dropped his shield as she fell, sweeping under her just in time to catch her. He lowered himself to the ground as Hal finished recovering.

"Gi'ata no. No. This wasn't our fight. This isn't the way it's supposed to end." Erin whispered to her, trying to save her with the remaining energy in his ring. Far off on the balcony, Aga'po was being helped to the front where she could see Gi'ata dying in Erin's arms. Erin turned his face to Hal, and for a second his eyes blazed with pure fire.

"Kill him or I will." Erin told Hal. Hal could see that something deep in Erin had been broken, and that there might not be any going back for him.

"Your mate is next." Atrocitus told Hal, seemingly indifferent to Erin's death threat. Hal surged forward, green energy gauntlets forming as he battered Atrocitus. The Red Lantern could barely respond under the rain of blows. With a powerful hammer slam, Jordan knocked Atrocitus into the ground, where he lay defeated. Carol slammed a pillar on top of him for good measure. With the enemy defeated, Hal and Carol hurried back to Erin and Gi'ata where they still sat at the base of the crystal-studded pillar.

"Gi'ata you shouldn't have." Erin told her, tears falling from the boy's eyes.

"There is no greater privilege than to perform a deed born of pure love." She said, her head falling onto Erin's chest. "And no greater honor, than it should be my last." Her eyes closed, and Erin felt her last breath leave her. With tears pouring down his face in unrelenting streams, he pulled her closer as sobs wracked his body.

Back on the balcony, Aga'po turned to Aya, "There is your proof, that love is the strongest force in the universe. Only love could cause beings to put themselves so completely in harm's way and then make the ultimate sacrifice, one's life." The queen leaned heavily into a guard as grief took her remaining strength. The guard carried her as they flew to the others. Erin looked up at the queen as she knelt in front of him. She reached out and Erin let her hold Gi'ata's body.

"I am comforted that Gi'ata did not die in vain. She proved that love is superior. And saved our planet from destruction." She said, looking at the three Lanterns.

"We owe her our lives." Carol told Aga'po.

"Some more than others," Erin choked out, his composure still shattered.

"Love is not superior." Aya said as she floated over the group.

"But I represented love, and I am not the one smashed under a rock right now. I won, we won." Carol responded.

"No, Atrocitus lost, he and his ring shall be sent back where they came. His failure is unacceptable." Aya said as she moved the rock. Erin's suit turned red as he turned to Aya. His body blazed with red energy.

"No he won't. He dies here. At my hand." Erin told her. Aya continued as if he didn't speak, pulling Atrocitus out. Erin blasted her with red energy, making her toss Atrocitus and his ring aside. With a casual air, she blasted Erin back, launching him deep into the cliff walls nearby.

"Aya, please listen to me. Just stop and consider everything that's happened here. I…we would like to help you." Hal answered, wary of upsetting Aya further.

"This trial demonstrated that love causes only pain. It foolishly led Gi'ata to her own destruction." Aya replied.

"No, it led her to an act of total selflessness." Carol answered.

"All life is pain. I now understand that the best thing I can do for the universe is to eliminate all life, and replace it with emotionless machines, like my loyal Manhunters."

"What? Aya that's crazy. You fought alongside me against the same enemies, you are alive as I am. And now…" Hal was cut off as a battalion of Manhunters descended.

"Prepare for the total annihilation of Zamaron." Aya told them as she plugged herself back into the Anti-Monitor body.

"No Aya, I won't let you do this." Hal said as he leapt to defend the Star Sapphire homeworld. Carol followed suit, only for the two of them to become caught in a bubble by Aya.

"I do not recall giving you a choice." She raised her other arm, ready to eliminate them. Until a shockwave hit her, forcing her to turn and watch the Interceptor land as it came out of ultra-warp. Kilowogg, Emmitt, and Razer came out, looking ready for battle.

"Aya!" Razer yelled racing to her. He floated nearby looking at her. "Aya, what are you doing?" For a moment, he seemed to have reached her, only for her face to set in stone again.

"To destroy life a single planet at a time is illogical and inefficient. I will find a way to erase all life in one motion, and remake the entire universe in my own image. Free of all emotion." Aya told them before leaving. For a moment everyone watched as she left, the sobering realization of their mission's objective changing. With a surprising scream, Erin surged out of the cliff, slamming into the ground near Atrocitus. The former leader of the Red Lanterns stirred as Erin lifted him up in a single hand.

"Kid no!" Hal cried out, trying to get the boy before he followed through on his plan. He was knocked back by a blast of red energy, and could only watch as a red dome sealed Erin and Atrocitus inside.

"I told you Jordan, he dies today. His crimes are too many. Too much blood has been spilled by his actions. Justice demands retribution. And I am its instrument." He told as he slammed Atrocitus off the dome's edges. The battered alien couldn't stand, much less hope to fight him.

"We've gotta stop him. Shiny's gone nuts!" Kilowogg said as he watched the one-sided melee. Without pausing to consider the others, Emmitt surged forward, his heavy armor protecting him as he forced his way inside the dome.

"Erin, this is not your way. Please cease and desist." The robot asked him, stepping between the boy and his prey. Erin's rage only seemed to blaze brighter as he swatted Emmitt aside. Emmitt woefully activated his weapon systems, firing at Erin in an attempt to stop him. As the shots forced Erin to stumble, he turned back to the Manhunter he had saved back on Odym.

"You'll share his fate, traitor." Erin said, a burst of speed propelling him directly in front of Emmitt. With an energy-clawed hand, Erin tore through the robot's chest, destroying it with a single move.

With the energy fading from his eyes, Emmitt had time only to whisper, "She wouldn't want this." With his last words said, the robot exploded, filling the dome with smoke. The dome collapsed, allowing the smoke to dissipate. As it cleared everybody could see Erin kneeling, clutching his head and shaking as Atrocitus lay stunned nearby. They were surprised when the red power ring showed up, floating near Erin. It came as an even greater shock as Gi'ata's Star Sapphire ring left her hand and floated over as well.

"Your choices are before you. Make them." Erin's ring spoke out for them all to hear. A large pyramid suddenly appeared, sheltering Erin and the floating rings from their sight. The faces of the pyramid turned and changed, becoming video screens.

In the screens, they saw Erin in civilian clothes laying defeated in what looked like a graveyard. The boy struggled, trying to get up even as his body was clearly shutting down. His eyes were turned to something behind their vantage point, but they could still see the hatred in them.

"You lied, Skullface." Erin spat through a busted lip and blood flowing from a broken nose.

"Name-calling hardly suits you." An evil voice said from wherever Erin was looking.

"You said, that if I came, you would leave them alone. But you just killed them anyways!" Erin screamed back, his body thrashing weakly as he tried to attack his enemy.

"It's called a display of power. Proof to you that my way is inevitable. Now it's time for you to hold your end of our bargain."

"You'll have to kill me first."

"I could and the results would be the same. But I thoroughly enjoy watching the life drain out of you mortals." A black power ring floated into view, and Erin threw an arm up as if to protect himself from it. Unnoticed by him, but noticeable to the Lanterns who watched, four comets streaked towards. One blue, one green, one violet, and one silver. They stopped in front of him, revealing themselves to be more power rings. As if fighting for the best piece of meat, the rings slammed onto his hand. Erin screamed as colored energies rolled off the rings and into him. He pulled his hand to his chest, hiding it from view. Then a brilliant explosion blinded them, and once their eyes cleared they were shocked. Erin seemed to be floating in a total void, his body sprawled out in the total nothingness. Where five rings had tried to sit on his hand, now only one ring was visible. It was the Mirror Lantern ring, and it had apparently won the power struggle.

"I will send him to another universe. Hopefully he won't allow its destruction like his own." A mysterious voice said. From off-screen a green bubble formed, dragging Erin's listless body away. The scene faded and then the pyramid broke, revealing Erin.

He stood there, looking at his new ring as the red and silver rings sat at his feet. He looked at the others, anguish clear on his face. But he didn't speak, instead he turned to where Atrocitus lay and knelt. The others moved closer, wary of any hostile moves.

"You know Atrocitus, I forgive you." Erin said looking at the dazed former Red Lantern. "As much you don't deserve it, I done holding back things. Because even you have a chance at atonement and redemption. Take care and try finding something good to hold onto besides your pain." Erin patted the alien's chest before creating a portal and rolling him through it.

"Kid, what was…?" Hal started to ask, only to be cut off by Erin's swiftly raised hand. He walked right by them and knelt by Aga'po. The queen looked at him, her confusion clear.

"I never got the chance to ask her. But know I will carry her memory with me always." Erin said, placing a small black felt box in the queen's hands. Without a word, she nodded and they all went to the throne room to mull over what happened.

"Carol Ferris and Hal Jordan, you have saved us from destruction. We are forever grateful." Aga'po told them as the crew stood back a ways.

"I only wish we could have saved Gi'ata. She is a true hero. We'll keep her in our hearts." Carol politely told her, respecting the grief of the people in the room.

"The last time you were here, you returned the Star Sapphire ring. And this time?"

"I think I'll keep it. Never know when it might come in handy."

"You honor us by doing so." With the exchange done, the queen activated the crystal portal, ready to send Carol home to Earth.

"So…?" Hal said as he looked at Carol. With a small smile, she stepped forward and lightly kissed his cheek.

"Thanks for being there when I called Hal. I'll be seeing you around… the galaxy." Carol remarked before leaving through the portal.

Later, on the Interceptor….

Erin sat at the table, looking at the ring that he had chosen. The others didn't realize that he now remembered his old life. His old family. His old universe.

"Do you wish to discuss what happened?" Erin turned to Razer in surprise. The others had been leaving him alone to "work it out for himself," so the question came from nowhere.

"If anyone else is going to understand, it'll be you." Erin replied as Razer sat across from his friend.

"We saw the destruction of your universe when you were in that… thing." Erin's eyebrows moved a fraction higher at the comment.

"Yeah, well at least this time I got a chance to choose instead blowing everything up. Unfortunately for Emmitt, it's too late."

"Why choose the Star Sapphire ring? You could have kept the power of your other ring and still served with them."

"Because that ring isn't me. Not anymore. When Gi'ata… died, I felt a part of myself die. And when I went into that ring chrysalis as I'm going to call it, that part woke up and reminded me of who I really am."

"So you remember more than just the destruction of your universe?"

"Yes, but that's a story that will only bring us more misery. Just know that I was always a meddling romantic who couldn't keep his trap shut." With a sad smile, Erin pushed himself up and turned to head for the bridge. Razer sat there a moment, contemplating Erin's answers. "Before I forget, I want you to know something. If it comes down to it, always choose love. Don't let another part of you die to your usual stubbornness."

"You… may be right." Razer said as he followed his fellow crewmember back to the bridge.